Reflections for 28th Ordinary Sunday of the Year: Matthew 22:1-14
Hi everyone, readers and fellow writers, really sorry for going AWOL on you guys, mainly because of time constraints due to my school internship and the fact that I ran out of inspiration. Beginning this week, I will publish my weekly Breaking of the Word (BOW) sharing with the readers. Let us enlighten each other as we share though comments related to the readings. Readers, please feel free to comment and perhaps start a friendly debate on the post. Maybe you guys can also share with us the different parish homilies as every parish priest’s homily would be obviously different; so share the bread with the rest of our brothers and sisters. Thank you!—–Ryan C. Chong
This gospel reading like other similar readings depicts on who is worthy to join the eternal feast and who is not. But in reality, the King or God as you would easily tell, invites everyone, Jew or Gentile, to his eternal banquet. It is a Banquet which I imagine would have all kinds of meat on the table, healthy vegetables, sweet delicious fruits and the best wine ever brewed. Roasted Ox, Boar, and all other delicious meats, especially lamb. The feast that as you eat, you will not gain weight. But sometimes, this is only my vivid imagination. Maybe in Heaven, there will be a large dining table where your name is on your designated seat. You dine with God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit- and the saints, your loved ones and others of his faithful, our brethren.
For me, I feel what Jesus really meant in the Parable of the Wedding Feast can be seen in these: “Will you live for me? Will you live by my name? Will you live by my teachings?” We can do personal checks on ourselves for this. Let’s try it on me.
1.Will you live for me?: Check. I live for Christ. He is the Giver of life and wisdom, intelligence, talents. . . . For that I am ever-grateful and shall live for him.
2. Will you live by my name?: Check. I live by his name. I am proud to be a Christian. To know his word and will.
3. Will you live by his teachings?: In terms of what he taught to his disciples, Mt 28:19—-> “Go, therefore, and make disciples from all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
As a RCIY sponsor, I fulfilled his will for the batch of 2013-2014 and I continue making more of Christ’s disciples as a RCIA sponsor for the 2014-2015 batch of catechumens.
In the case of his original will, which is the Ten Commandments given to Moses during the Sinaitic Covenant and Jesus’ own covenant of love and forgiveness. . .
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: One of the Commandments that I have trouble with is the bad habit of saying: Oh my God, God-Damn & Jesus Christ! when I am annoyed, shocked or angry.
Honour thy Father and thy Mother: Especially in Chinese families, the teaching of Filial Piety in Confucianism, the respect of one’s parents, has been passed down from generation to generation till this very modern age when it might cease to exist. The youth of this generation would think they are smarter and more powerful than their parents especially in technology and education of this modern age. These would be almost foreign to our parents. When this comes, we start to look down on them and disrespect them. And the naivete of youth is seen in their being easily influenced by the latest trends, like in moral views. Seriously, boys and girls: all the influences that you had is not healthy at all. Trust me. I’m from this advanced generation and yet I’m criticizing myself. I too struggle with this commandment especially. It’s such a shame. Things that were supposed to be are no longer in use now.
I have failed to be Christ-like, failed to be as forgiving and loving as how Jesus was which he wanted us to be.
And then later in the gospel reading, when the table was finally filled with guests, the King took a look around his now filled wedding feast table. But he realized that there was a man not in the correct festal garment. And so the King was enraged and ordered his guards to throw/kick him out of the banquet, into the dark with the weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Lord, I apologise for doubting you on your agenda here. But you said you are ever-loving. Why are you always so harsh in your parables? You should at least say that the King ordered the man to go purchase a proper wedding dress and then return, right?”
“Silly Boy. I am who I am. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. I am the Alpha and the Omega. Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. I shall not abandon them. Those who have accepted my invitation to my great feast are already saved by death, but would you come to a banquet when you have not washed yourself and wear the appropriate clothes?”
Many people would understand the dark place with weeping and gnashing of teeth as the domain of the Devil. When Jesus says the gnashing of teeth, we can think of it as in hell. But here, it is a hidden meaning that he means that we should be cleansed before we return to the Kingdom of Heaven. And where do we get cleansed? Purgatory. It might be a dark place, with fire that you might mistake it as hell until an angel, possibly your own guardian angel, confides in you that this is just purgatory. Wow, praise and thanks be to God. The fire that we will use to burn away all the dirt, the sins that we had committed, in our mortal life. Once we are cleansed,then we will enjoy our eternal lives in Heaven.
But what if the man in this passage is really a sinful man who had failed to live by Jesus’ name, his teachings. And yet he is a Christian or calls himself one, and as a Christian who especially knows that it is a sin, he feels no guilt. He may be committing Adultery, Theft, Worship of Idols and Murder,most common of late. And yet if a Christian does this and has a nightmare of being in hell, I would say this to the person, “You are indeed deserving of hell, you hypocrite! For the punishment of sin is Death and when Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross for our sins, he redeemed us all. Because of this, we are forgiven our sins with reconcillation and repentance. So, go to God’s priests, acknowledge to them our wrongdoings that you have broken the Holy Law of God and seek just repentance and earn back God’s grace and favour. He loves us all.”
And in the last passage, “Know that many are called, but few are chosen.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, do not think that we are among the few who are chosen though we have answered the call to be Christians. We have accepted his invitation which further explains the dark corner with gnashing of teeth in the passage and more in the sinful person scenario. All are invited, regardless of race and skin colour. All are invited to be Christ’s disciples. Those who have already accepted, do not think that you are 100% saved. Many people would ask you, “Are you a Christian?” And you would reply, “Yes” and then they will pose a question, “What do you do?” And most of the time, you would be shocked and not have an answer. For some who have an answer, they would say, ” Oh nothing much. It’s just a religion and belief. God blesses me everyday because I go for mass every week and receive the Holy Eucharist. You know? The body of Christ. But it’s also quite boring. During the mass, when the priest does the homily, I go into a semi-coma or fall asleep. When he stops or begins the proclamation of faith, I suddenly wake up. And after consuming the Sacred Host, I don’t wait for the final blessing. After Holy Communion, I just leave the church…… “
Deny all you want, brothers and sisters who are guilty with all this. God sees all, there is no deceiving him, especially the sleeping during the homily part is too extreme. Too extreme for my liking. And to think I saw older adults sleeping during mass and their families follow suit. And my reaction, “I thought older people will be wiser and be awake especially…. especially during the homily as it is the breaking of the word by the priest. And wow, they are worse than the younger ones and they are giving an example to the people who would be the future of the Church. Lord, what is happening to us? Oh my Lord, my God, help us, your faithful servant prays.” Imagine, adults who should be responsible for lighting the spark of the Fire of faith in their children. They are actually telling their children to heck-care whatever happens in mass, not focus on Jesus but other things. And yet even more, they tell the priest that the homily is too long. Any of you feeling ashamed because of being guilty of this? No offense but you have the right to be ashamed. I have the right to be ashamed as I also go into a semi-coma when the homily is really boring. We reap what we sow. If you are one of these irresponsible adults, I don’t have to tell you this as you ought to know how to go for a good examination of conscience and confession. Let us go and seek forgiveness.
To me, sleeping during the homily is the worst of all. Relate that to the reading, it is the same as the man not wearing appropriate clothes.
Ending off, I also like to quote the chorus and last verse from the hymn, : The wedding Banquet. Now God has written a lesson for the rest of mankind; If we’re slow in responding, he may leave us behind. He’s preparing a banquet for that great and glorious day. When the Lord and Master calls us, be certain not to say: I cannot come. I cannot come to the banquet. Don’t trouble me now. I have married a wife. I have bought me a cow. I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum. Pray, hold me excused. I cannot come.
In today’s world, we are more focused on our studies, our work, our careers. We are more concerned with our careers than our relationship with God. I have to agree that work is equally important. But God should be the No 1 Priority, followed by Family and Peers and then work, so on and so for. Remember this.
So thank you all for reading. Please feel free to leave comments if there is anything that struck you in my BOW or if you have anything to share related to the readings. Please drop a comment. Thank you and God bless you and your loved ones.